Bob Marley was way more than his weed. (Photo: Getty Images)
So we’re guessing the folks at Snapchat were totally baked when they came up with their latest gimmick: a Bob Marley filter! Special for 420 day! Get it?
Yeah, we don’t really either. Except in the way that most folks have, which is to say we are cringing over the instant-blackface effect of the image as well as the oddly reductive decision to use Marley — Jamaican reggae pioneer and superstar and ambassador of peace and Pan-Africanism (who did, yes, happen to believe in the legalization of ganja) — as the face of Stonerville.
Critics are responding with a resounding thumbs-down, calling the filter “racially insensitive,” “in extremely poor taste,” “effectively reducing Marley’s impact to a stereotype,” and “cultural appropriation,” with Esquire begging, “You should not use this today! Just don’t do it!”
Twitter, predictably, has been flooded with outrage:
They so easily could’ve made that Bob Marley filter without black face and still get the point across. so ignorant
— Noodle Dad (@hotdad) April 20, 2016
Black culture is more than mainstream hiphop. It’s more than twerking. It’s so complex and extensive. And Bob Marley is more than pot.
— レモネード (@melaninbarbie) April 20, 2016
I’m tired of explaining that Jamaican culture, Rastafarian culture & Bob Marley himself are more than just a blunt & locks. It’s exhausting
— Kayla A. Greaves (@KaylaAGreaves) April 20, 2016
There has been at least one hugely notable (if also predictable) exception, of course: Kylie Jenner, who hopped to it and slapped that blackface-and-dreadlocks right over her face. “420. Yaaas, bitch,” she exclaimed in her filter-enhanced video. “Yaaas.”
Snapchat, meanwhile, responded to the negative buzz by releasing the following statement to a couple of outlets: “The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.”